194 days of COVID-19 lockdown in Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, as at 8 October 2020, the total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7 951 after 32 new cases were reported. Active cases went up to 1 276. 5 new recoveries were recorded. The total number of recoveries stands at 6 446. The death toll now stands at 229.
We are alarmed by the high rise in positive COVID cases of 32 local transmission cases on the 8th of October and call for increased practical measures to expand testing and strengthen vigilance in testing and tracing as socio-economic activities are widely relaxed and have resumed in earnest. It is critical to ensure that testing does not drop despite the low number of cases thus far.
We raise with alarm concerns regarding the resurgence of widespread cases of diarrhoea in Bulawayo on the back of reports that only 2 neighbourhoods out of 100 neighbourhoods are getting water per day. We continue to highlight the dire straits of communities who have grossly inadequate water and sanitation access due to a myriad of reasons. We, however, continue to call upon Government to aggressively pursue sustainable solutions to the perennial water and sanitation crises.
Emerging Critical Issues
Response to malaria threat
We note the increase of malaria cases, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health and Child-Care reports that a total of 1 798 cases were recorded in September, with Mashonaland Central Province recording 594 cases and Manicaland Province recording 517 cases. The cumulative figures for malaria from week 1 to week 38 stand at 368 914 and 368 deaths.
- We urge Government to provide the necessary support measures to ensure that we do not lose more lives to this disease. Again, this requires investment in our public health sector.
We continue to draw attention to the Auditor General’s report which warns of a looming health crisis in Bulawayo due to water shortages. WCoZ monitoring in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, through its networks and structures, reveals that the nation is currently experiencing a water crisis that requires urgent redress.
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right for achieving gender equality and sustainable development. WCoZ further notes that water shortages have negatively impacted women in the following ways:
- Increased burden of unpaid care-work as women have to constantly travel long distances in search of water for washing of clothes, food preparation and household hygiene.
- Poor sanitation and hygiene, particularly for women and girls during their menstrual cycle.
- Nursing mothers require more water than anyone else: According to the WHO studies, the basic requirement for a lactating woman engaged in even moderate physical activity is 2.5 litres a day.
- Lack of privacy.
- Risk of sexual harassment and violence against women while fetching water from undesignated sources.
- We, therefore, recommend long term comprehensive measures to address the water situation.
- The Government working with other relevant stakeholders must ensure that the overall national sanitation and framework is gender-sensitive.
Violence against children
We continue to note an increase in media reports of untold horrendous acts of violence committed against children within the household, usually by their guardians or loved ones. We draw attention to the report issued in March by the United Nations, raising alarm over the lack of protection mechanisms and early warning systems for children during COVID-19.
- We recommend that the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare activate a proactive process of identifying and providing support to vulnerable children and families.
- We urge Government to invest in key services for children, in health and nutrition, education and protection against violence which are effective and direct means to reduce the occurrence of child labour in our communities.
- We call upon CSOs, stakeholders and Government to collectively support mechanisms to provide support to households through the deployment of Social Welfare officers to conduct critical inspections at homes that are reported to be at risk and to respond to such risks by:
- Ensuring that helplines for children remain fully functional,
- Prioritising funding shelters and other places of safety for children,
- Expanding critical services for children and ensuring accessibility,
- Ensuring community child protection committees are supported to play their roles as community care workers.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe